By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
Augustine Institute has declared the Holy Land Military Rosary as its official rosary to be supplied free of charge to those serving overseas in the military. Production is getting under way. An order of 7,000 rosaries, has been placed, said Father Bill Kneemiller who leads the Holy Land Military Rosary nonprofit organization. He is a priest of the Diocese of Davenport and has served overseas as a chaplain for the U.S. Army Reserves.
Joe Alger, director of military outreach at Augustine Institute (formerly Lighthouse Catholic Media), said he learned about Fr. Kneemiller and the Holy Land Military Rosary several years ago from a “Tweet” (social media message) his wife saw. Alger and Fr. Kneemiller made contact and began working together through their organizations to get Holy Land Military rosaries into the hands of military personnel. “They went fast,” Alger said. The first 1,000 rosaries were so popular that he had to limit shipments to only 50 per order so that rosaries could be sent to several sites.
About 25 percent of U.S. military members are Catholic, according to reports from U.S News & World Report and The New York Times. During a board meeting of the Holy Land Military Rosary board in late September, Alger, who lives in Wisconsin, asked about the possibility of getting 7,000 rosaries for distribution. The board agreed.
The Holy Land Military Rosary has many unique aspects, Fr. Kneemiller said, beginning with the materials used. The rosary is composed of parachute chord, pony beads and finished with an olivewood crucifix made in the Holy Land. Next, all the rosaries are hand made by people in the Diocese of Davenport or in Haiti.
Michelle Schaapveld, a member of the rosary board and of Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine, has already started making new rosaries. A dedicated group from the parish has been making Holy Land Military rosaries for several years and more are joining in the production. Liz McDermott, another board member who also heads mission trips through ServeHAITI, will have supplies taken to Haiti in early 2018.
Residents there will make the rosaries and be paid for their work. The finished rosaries are brought back to Iowa by a mission trip team.
Schaapveld said it costs $2.60 to make each rosary here locally. That is the cost for supplies — no labor. The cost to make the rosaries in Haiti is $3.60 for supplies and labor, because they pay the Haitians.
“We are supporting jobs in the Holy Land (for the making of the crosses) and in Haiti and helping our military,” Alger said. “What can be better than that?”
Kathleen Quinn, office manager, said a new “200 Club” has been announced. Donors can commit $10 a month to the Holy Land Military Rosary (or any amount) via the website donation button at http://holylandmilitaryrosary.org.
Since this year marks the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima’s appearance, the new initiative is very timely, Quinn said.
Fr. Kneemiller added, “October is the month of the rosary and the 100th year of Fatima. Let’s not just talk about it (reciting the rosary), let’s just do it and give it a chance.”
For more information on the Holy Land Military Rosary, visit the website.